Reality Check: All views are my own

It’s interesting to see how many people add phrasing like: “all views expressed here are my own and don’t reflect the views of my employer” on their Twitter biography.

It’s especially interesting to see PR people including it.

Why is it interesting you may (rightly) ask?

imageWell because nothing is further from the truth.

If you’re a Public Relations practitioner (and you could argue any employee) and you’re tweeting, then it’s all on the record.

I’m not debating if this is right or wrong, I’m just pointing out the reality.

Next up: Why adding “RT isn’t an endorsement” to your bio makes no sense, because a RT is an implicit endorsement (unless you happen to add some sarcastic commentary – and in that case refer to the first point).

Don’t forget the local impact

When we think about how companies are using social media, we typically look at the big players, but I love to hear how small, local companies are using it.  I find it’s a great way to get my tired brain firing on how I think about the potential of social media.

I was in downtown Seattle for a number of meetings this morning and I found out how a small local coffee shop (it’s not a chain!) is on Twitter, and each time a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies emerges from the oven, they tweet about it. 

The interesting thing is that as soon as that tweet goes out, you can see a stream of people from the surrounding offices heading directly to the shop.  Now that’s a real world commercial and local use of social media!

There’s been a lot of discussion on how the internet has supported globalization.  It’s something that we all know has impacted how we think about communications.  However, keep an eye on the local impact of the internet, it could be something we start spending a lot more time thinking about from a PR perspective.

PR, Blogging, RSS and Twitter…

Wow, it’s August. I must be getting old, because the weeks, months and years are beginning to fly by.

It’s been quiet on this blog for a while and (in tandem) my RSS reading has been sporadic at best.

Of course I have a defense. I’ve been pretty busy.  Egypt was an experience, and I’ve moved to a new role at Microsoft (Corporate Citizenship since you ask).

Yesterday I installed the latest FeedDemon beta and rediscovered why RSS is such a great way to track news and opinions about anything you’re interested in.

Revisiting your RSS feeds is like re-discovering old friends, it’s fantastic. It’s also interesting to find out there are so many people still talking out the back of their trousers but then that’s one of the great things about the Internet and social media – the diversity.

Couple of posts to consider:

I will be back.

Twitter Research: 10% of users account for 90% of Tweets…

Interesting blog post over on the Harvard Business Conversation Starter blog about the results of a piece of analysis on 300,000 Twitter users.

Of our sample (300,542 users, collected in May 2009), 80% are followed by or follow at least one user. By comparison, only 60 to 65% of other online social networks’ members had at least one friend (when these networks were at a similar level of development). This suggests that actual users (as opposed to the media at large) understand how Twitter works.

It seems men are more likely to follow other men and the 10% most prolific Twitter users account for 90% of the tweets.

Read more.

Are you following me?

Well Twitter’s popularity continues to grow (as can be evidenced by the return of the whale).

imageI have a chequered relationship with Twitter.  I have been a cynic, a convert, a lapsed practitioner and a pragmatist. I see great utility in the service, along with great waste, great opportunities and great disappointments.

Overall though I think Twitter is a great social experiment and the number of people continuing to come onto the service is absolutely staggering. 

Furthermore the growing number of tools to help you search and track topics of interest make it even more interesting and valuable.

Of course, I’m also developing pet hates:

1) People who automate a reply when you follow them: “hey hi, thanks for following I’ll try and be interesting” or some such.  Like I need more inane messages in my life – probation

2) People who automate a reply and try and sell you their get rich quick scheme – unfollow

3) People who exclusively use Twitter as a cheap and not so cheerful promotion vehicle for their inane blog posts – unfollow

4) People with Twitter tourettesunfollow

5) People who offer you the secret of 10,000s of followers on Twitter – unfollow

(Insider advice from someone not on the inside: Folks if you want 10,000s of followers, just follow 30,000 people on Twitter, the proportion of people who will follow you back will probably be 3:1. It’s easy and just takes some time.)

I can’t imagine that Twitter, with that number of follows, is of any value whatsoever, but if you’re looking for numbers then you probably don’t care and just want to broadcast.

Twitter can be incredibly useful for keeping in touch with people, researching things, finding out what’s hot (on Twitter), connecting with people etc., etc. Just remember that like every other single part of life there are some eejits.image

What’s very interesting (to me) is that companies are doing some very interesting things on Twitter.  Given my geographic location, let me give a local example: Starbucks.

Nothing earth shattering… but they are providing a human face on the organization.  And they have over 130,000 followers!


I spotted some new Twitter-related content today (not a terribly difficult task), so I thought I’d share (all were found via Twitter, but I can’t recall from whom – so apologies).


  • Utility in the jumble of Tweets (NY Times)
  • The “Golden rules of Twitter marketing” from Ireland’s Business & Leadership:
    • Do engage in conversation. Watch what people say and, if it is relevant to your area, offer advice and get to know their needs.
    • Don’t use Twitter as a place to continually post about how great your company or product is. People will block, ignore or unfollow you.
    • Do learn the power of ‘retweeting’. Make your message short, snappy and useful. This way, if someone finds it useful they can re-send or retweet it to others in their network.
    • Don’t be formal. If your company wants a presence on Twitter make sure that it is Dave from Acme Ltd as opposed to a faceless entity. People can approach Dave on a one-to-one basis.
    • Do think before you tweet. Before you write a new message ask yourself: Am I connecting with someone? Am I adding something useful?
    • Don’t think of Twitter as a closed container. Twitter is picked up by the Google search engine so if someone googles your company or keywords associated with your brand, then your relevant tweets will appear in the search engine almost like a mini webpage.
    • Do learn how to filter the users you are following. Using a tool like TweetDeck means you can place followers in different groups to read tweets more easily. You can also search for keywords and keep an eye on your brand in this way.
    • Don’t be bland. Not everyone will like you so there is no need to try to please everyone. A strong viewpoint will help your brand positioning.


Yet another Twitter satire: Flutter. (Via Mr. Barefoot’s article on social media gimmicks).



A tutorial on using Twitter:


So there you go. 

Feel free to share your thoughts, aspirations and challenges with Twitter…


Update 1:

Update 2:

Update 3:

Settling in Seattle…. and keeping an eye on the Twendz…


It’s been a while.  I hope you haven’t been too sad while I’ve been away.

I guess not.

Well, week two in Seattle is nearly complete. The great thing for an Irish person moving to Seattle is that it’s pretty easy to acclimate… we get lots of “soft days” here as well :-)

One thing that hasn’t changed while I’ve been away from regular blogging is the continued rise of Twitter.  It still amazes me just how much airplay Twitter gets both in-person and across the media (see below). 

Another thing that hasn’t changed is PR pitches.  I received an e-mail from a PR person last week saying:

“I’ve seen your blog (check out this really funny video)…. I’ve never seen a company introduce a product like this before.  What a fun (and funny) way to spread the word on serious water-saving technology!

So of course being the cynical person I am, the first thing I did was go to their web site and low and behold the company promoting the video was her client – a fact not mentioned in the e-mail.

Transparency people.  Transparency.

Looking through my RSS Reader there were just too many backed up unread posts, but here are some things that caught my eye as I quickly scanned the headlines (if I’ve missed anything let me know).

Psychoanalyze your blog.. or not

Stuart has a link to an interesting web tool (bubble gum psychonanalysis but sure there’s nothing wrong with that) Typealyzer which promises to tell your the personality type behind a blog.  Like Stuart I’m INTJ (I don’t think it’s related to Myers Briggs). Seemingly I’m the long-range thinking, individualist type. The only problem is, so is every other blog I put into it, so maybe best ignored…


Twitter, Twitter Twitter….

Shel Holtz gives another great example of how Twitter’s real-time  broadcasts can be really useful.

Meanwhile, PR firm Waggener Edstrom (disclaimer: one of Microsoft’s PR firms) has released an interesting new data mining application for Twitter called Twendz.

According to Frank Shaw:

twendz is a Twitter mining Web application that utilizes the power of Twitter Search, highlighting conversation themes and sentiment of the tweets that talk about topics you are interested in. As the conversation changes, so does twendz by evaluating up to 70 tweets at a time. When new tweets are posted, they are dynamically updated, minute by minute.

Here’s a PR Twendz


Personally, I think this is very interesting and I like the tag cloud and the positive-negative indicator on the left-hand column.

Last but not least, I forgot to mention the very clever Twitter Mosaic which everyone knows about, but I still think is really smart.

Get your Twitter Mosaic here.

Social media and PR?

Browsing through many neglected RSS feeds today, there wasn’t a lot that tickled my fancy (so to speak).

Once again, I did see a couple of posts that probably should have been held in a “drafts” folder overnight – and then deleted. 

I don’t wish to pour salt on the wounds, but there are a couple of PR bloggers who would be well advised to take a deep breath before hitting publish.  I mean it’s never nice to lose a client, but writing a post on why the client was wrong (thankfully without naming names) is at best ill-advised – no matter how much better you feel about it – and writing posts in that vein every time you lose a client, can start to look as though your business is dissolving in real-time. Perception is, after all, often reality.

Enough said.

Over time you see the PR blog community converging on a small number of similar themes. 

It will be no surprise that Twitter continues to be the subject of much attention, for example:

  • Drew offers 10 ways Twitter can be useful to a PR practitioner
  • Dave Fleet offers a list of 40 PR-related people to follow on Twitter.
  • Andrew Smith ponders the challenge of so little time, so many Tweets.

Elsewhere the subject of “social media” is attracting some commentary from the UK fraternity.

The Chartered Institute of PR has released “Social Media Guidelines” (hat tip to Richard Bailey). (Disclaimer: In true blogging fashion I haven’t actually read the guidelines (though it has been added to an ever-growing “to-read” list), but I know some men who have.)

Stuart thinks they’re half-baked, while Simon points out that there’s some legal poetic license in there.

The cynics might say that about sums up Social Media. LOL.  Not me obviously gentle reader, no, not me. 



Talking of Social Media…. the excellent Don’t Panic Guide to Social Media (PDF) is coming to London in April, featuring a great line-up of speakers. Highly recommended.

Common Sense + Twitter

If you’re still just dipping your toe into Twitter, you should take a trip over to Barbara Gibson’s blog.  She has a post on her experiences as a newbie to Twitter and last week wrote a nice common sense post on getting deeper into Twitter.

Don’t be intimidated by Twitter. If I can go from Newbie to whatever I am now in just seven weeks, anyone can. I’m not techy or especially cutting-edge.  The only thing hard about it really is the clunky interface, and lack of instruction for Newbies.  But once you get going, it gets very easy.  If you need help, just tweet me.


Worth a read.

It’s a question of trust

Forrester’s Josh Bernoff has published some interesting findings from a survey they undertook in the second quarter (April-June) of 2008 to find out the most trustworthy information sources.

Interesting, good old e-mail comes in a #1, traditional media is holding up nicely and the poor blog (particularly the company flavour) limps in last.

image See the original image and post here.

Of course if you’re a PR practitioner you know all about statistics :-)

The interesting validation for me is that the results point to a crazy mix of online and offline tools.  It’s not just about social media, it’s about understanding your audience, getting an insight into where they are, and then using the appropriate tools to communicate with them.

This doesn’t mean corporate blogs are a bad idea in my humble opinion but that if you want to communicate with people you need to be thinking of a broad set of tools.  Blogs are part of that discussion in my humble opinion.

Hat tip to Neville via (ahem) Twitter.